Two weeks … the same amount of time I’d have had to wait if none of this had happened. But things were different now. “Any chance we could go sooner?”
He studied me for a moment then sat back in his seat. “Who is it that you hope to see again?”
“That transparent, huh?”
“My foster mother. She was transferred as soon as she passed.”
“How long ago?”
He puffed out his cheeks. “All reapers that go to and from Deadside need to have clearance. I’ll put a rush on yours.”
Relief loosened my tongue even more. “How come you’re so nice, and Mal is so … I don’t even have words.”
Conah’s expression darkened. “Oh, I’m not nice, Fee. I’m just the lesser of two evils.”
Gooseflesh broke out across my skin. “What do you mean?”
He broke eye contact. “The lack of leads makes it difficult.”
Huh? For a moment, I was lost, and then it hit me. He was referring to the hooded figures. Another not so subtle subject change. I narrowed my eyes but decided to go with it. No leads … wait … The ghost with no memory had been a bust, but we did have a lead. How could I have forgotten?
I sat forward in my seat eagerly. “I saw Peiter in a club the night he was killed.”
Conah leaned toward me. “You didn’t mention that before.”
“I didn’t think. I was so focused on the actual event in the alley, but he was in the club before that. I saw him meet a man. I got a peek at him. They left together.”
“He was meeting someone …” Conah looked thoughtful. “Would you recognize him if you saw him again?”
I closed my eyes, visualizing the club, the memory of the beat of the music, the moment I’d set eyes on Peiter, and the man … Chestnut curling locks long enough to sweep his collar. He’d had his back to me. Wait, he was turning around, and there it was, a swarthy complexion, hooked nose, and strong jaw.
I opened my eyes. “Yes. If he’s there, then I’ll recognize him.”
“Then we’ll go tomorrow night.”
“A Sunday? The club is only open Friday and Saturday nights.”
“Fine, then we go Friday night,” Conah said. “It gives us time to scope out Peiter’s chambers and more time to train.”
Night in Necro was morning here. “Does the time difference mess with you?”
He looked surprised. “No. It never has. Strange, I never thought about it before.” He stood and collected the plates. “You want dessert? There’s some devil’s food cake leftover from yesterday.”
“Don’t tell me you baked that too.”
“Okay, I won’t.” His eyes did that twinkle thing again that warmed my heart.
He set a cake box on the table and opened it to reveal the chocolaty goodness.
“I probably shouldn’t undermine my training.” I eyed the cake.
Conah cut a slice and placed it on a plate in front of me. “We work hard, Fee, and we enjoy the finer things in life. Good food happens to be one of them.”
“I do enjoy good food.”
He handed me a fork. “And I enjoy making it.”
He watched as I popped a forkful in my mouth. Flavor exploded on my tongue, and I couldn’t help but let out an involuntary groan of pleasure.
His eyes, which were locked on my mouth, darkened, and then the whites bled to crimson. What the fuck? My breath caught in my throat, and I almost choked on my mouthful. Conah was across the room in a blink, slapping my back to help dislodge the food. Oh, wow, embarrassing much?
I took a gulp of water. “I’m sorry. Your eyes went all squiffy.”
He turned away quickly. “I apologize. I haven’t fed in over a week.”
His voice sounded thicker, distorted, like he had something in his mouth. But he’d finished his food, so what … Oh … shit. Dominus reapers drank blood … with fangs. When he said he hadn’t fed, he was talking about blood.
Wait a second. “You want to feed off me?”
He made a strangled sound. “No, Fee. I don’t want to feed off you. I apologize. I should have fed a few days ago. I lost control. It won’t happen again.”
Another thought pinged into my brain. “Will I need to … feed?”
“Not all demons have the bloodlust, only Lilith’s bloodlines.”
He finally faced me. His eyes looked normal now, and there were no fangs on show. He’d reined it in.
He ran a hand over his face. “You should get some rest. We’ll start training in the morning.”
I didn’t get lost on the way back to my room. Mal had definitely played his mind tricks on me earlier. It was the only explanation for me losing my way earlier, and … yeah, that thing I’d almost done.
I closed the door and opened the wardrobe to see my clothes neatly hung up; even my pajamas had been hung. Wait, had someone pressed the clothes? They were all wrinkle-free. My underwear? I found them in the top drawer of the dresser neatly pressed and folded.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about that. It had to be Iza, the imp. She was being useful, doing her job, but the idea of her ironing my undies was just … No. I’d have to speak to her about that.
I changed out of my jeans and into my PJs, scooped my hair back, and plaited it for bed. I’d thought about cutting it so many times, but I loved my long hair. It was the one part of my body I was super proud of. Thick, silky, and the most awesome shade of silver-blonde that people thought was out of a bottle but was totally natural.
There was a knock on the door, and I tensed. If that was Mal, I was honor-bound to kiss his ass—no, kick, kick his ass. What the heck?
I took a deep breath. “Come in if you’re not Mal, otherwise piss off.”
The door opened to reveal a diminutive creature with pointy ears, a snout, and huge puppy dog eyes. A creature wearing a tunic dress and shoes.
“Ah, I see you’ve met Master Malachi,” she said. “Did he misbehave with you?”
This had to be Iza, the imp. My personal imp. “Yes, on both counts. You must be Iza.”
“I am, indeed.” She grinned, showcasing small white teeth. “Miss Dawn. Miss Fee, Mistress Seraphina?”
“Just Fee is fine.”
“As you wish, Mistress Fee.”
“No Mistress, just Fee.”
She stared at me, wide-eyed. Shit, had I offended her?
“You wish for me to use your given name without a prefix?”
“Will that be a problem?”
Her throat bobbed, and she shook her head. “Of course not. Fee …” She said my name warily, watching me with one eye squinted as if she expected me to bite her head off or shout gotcha, off with your head!
I bit back a smile. “Thanks for pressing my clothes.”
She flinched. “That is my job.”
“I appreciate it. Don’t worry about pressing my underwear, though, okay?”
“Oh, very well. I’m at your service, night and day. You need anything, you ask me.”
“I appreciate that, but I’m pretty low maintenance.”
Her face fell.
Shit. “Um, what did you do for Peiter?”
Her eyes lit up. “Prepare his meals. Press his clothes, run his baths, clip his toenails, clean his room, and plot and action revenge against his enemies.”
Whoa … “Revenge?”
Her brows snapped down. “Oh, yes, Master Peiter did not suffer fools lightly, and he did not like to be … how did he put it ... messed with.”
“And who would mess with him?”
“Mostly Master Malachi.” She gave me a sly look.
Interesting. “And what did Master Malachi’s helper have to say about the payback?”
“Oh, Master Malachi doesn’t have an imp. He never has.”
Hmmm. “You know what, Iza, I do have a job for you.”
Her lips curved in a wicked smile. “Uh-huh, I sense a mischief coming on.”
“You need to put your weight into the blow,” Conah said. “Small step, twist at the waist, quarter rotate your jabbing shoulder, and your fist needs to rotate one hundred eighty degrees before you make contact.”
“Oh, yeah, that sounds easy enough.”
“No sarcasm, just action.”
“If it saves your life.”
Ouch, yeah. Probably best to curb the flippant comments. I only had a fraction of an idea of what waited out there for me. My great night’s sleep on the uber comfy bed had not prepared me for this. I hadn’t crawled out of bed till midday, and now I was being punished for it.
“Come on, Fee. We haven’t got all day.”
“Shit, who knew punching was so technical.”
We’d been at it for half an hour, me against the punching bag, and I was already exhausted.
My fist made contact with the bag, and this time, it actually made an impact, and the damn thing swayed a little.
“Better,” Conah said. “Again.”
Ten minutes later, my jabbing action was spot on, and the punch bag became Lucas’s face.
“Great.” Conah’s hands fell on my shoulders. “Take five, Fee. That was good.”
“My ass aches. Why does my ass ache?”
He let out a surprised chuckle but cut it off quickly. “You don’t realize how many muscles you work with this exercise.”
I lowered myself gingerly onto the mat with my bottle of water and took a swig. “Do I get a weapon, or do we just use fists and scythes?”
“No, you’ll get a weapon. We use obsidian blades. The blades are made from an element found only here in the Underealm. Our daggers are bound to their reaper. I’ve already commissioned yours. It should be with us in a few days.”
A dagger to call my own. “I guess you’ll be teaching me how to use that too?”